Gabby Petito case shines light on racial disparities with missing persons

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The case of Gabby Petito has made local and national headlines, but there are also people who disappear every day in the Tri-State Area that don't garner the same attention.

Tiffeny Wesley, from the Bronx, has been missing since July.

Aliyah Boomer, of Brooklyn, vanished six years ago.

Larry Darnell Stackhouse disappeared from upstate New York 16 years ago.

"They're simply not receiving that level of mainstream media," said Derrica Wilson, who cofounded the National Black and Missing Foundation. "Everyone knows Natalie Holloway, Laci Peterson, Chandra Levy, Elizabeth Smart, and Gabby Petito. But we have to ask, how many people can you name that are minority, Black and Brown?"

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According to New York City, more than 13,000 people were reported missing last year alone.

7 On Your Side Investigates tried to get a racial breakdown of the missing and how many cases have been solved, but the NYPD hasn't released it yet.

"The number of missing persons is fluid as investigations are active and constantly change," the department said in a statement.

Wilson said that nationwide, 40% of the missing are people of color.

"All these families that are living in this nightmare, their hearts bleed the same way," she said.

Wilson said they're often not made public for a variety of reasons.

"Oftentimes when families of color report their loved ones missing, police are not taking the cases as seriously," she said. "When it comes to children, they tend to classify them as runaways. Sometimes when families go to report, they don't even want to take the police report."

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But there's something everyone can do to help be a part of the solution, and it's as simple as hitting the share button when it comes to missing persons posts on social media.

"Do not just like the post," Wilson said. "Share the post. Retweet the post. Someone knows something. When more people are listening, there's a greater chance of a reunion."

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